Raised in Elkin, North Carolina, he received a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982. He then attended the UNC School of Dentistry, from which he graduated in 1988. He has been active in the dental community as the secretary for the Holiday Dental Conference and currently serves on the Charlotte Missions of Mercy Foundation, which provides free dental care to the underprivileged in Charlotte. He is an active member in the Charlotte Dental Society and South Charlotte Study Club. He especially enjoys cosmetic and implant dentistry.
He and his wife Jenny have two daughters, Lane who works in Atlanta after graduation from Washington and Lee University, and Elizabeth who attends Boston College. In his spare time, Dr. Merlo enjoys playing tennis, snow skiing and family trips to Bald Head Island.